Amicus Curiae: Another Unqualified Nominee


The Record has recently learned that President Bush nominated Judge Samuel Alito of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit to the U.S. Supreme Court. We urge the President to reconsider.

To be clear, The Record is a nonpartisan organization. We do not offer or withhold endorsements based on jurisprudential grounds, primarily because we do not know what “jurisprudential” means. We leave that sort of analysis to the law school’s marginally more prestigious but considerably lesser-read publication, the Harvard Law Review. Our objection to Judge Alito rests on his credentials, or lack thereof, as the case may be (and is.) In his 55 years, Judge Alito has neglected to earn a Harvard Law School degree, which, we’ve been led to believe, ought to preclude him from a position of power and/or influence.

The President’s post-Roberts nomination pattern is troubling. First a crony, now a Yalie. We’re beginning to suspect that the President’s plan is to combat “judicial activism” by undermining the legitimacy of the Court. At this rate, should Justice Stevens retire, we could end up with Ben Affleck answering questions in front of the Judiciary Committee. After all, without an HLS degree, it’s about as likely that Alito is legally competent as it is that Affleck played any part in writing Good Will Hunting.

Now. Before you accuse us of sounding as pompous as the word “jurisprudential,” remember where we’re coming from. Did you know, for example, that “five current members of the Supreme Court graduated from Harvard Law School,” and that a sixth would have as well, if only she’d toughed it out for one more year? Have you heard that “ten U.S. Senators graduated from HLS?” Were you aware that some (and by some, we mean one) frequently speak of Harvard Law School as “the New York of law schools?” Of course you’ve heard! You go to Harvard Law School, triumphalist capital of the world!

On the theory that we should not rest our self-satisfaction on anecdotes alone, we’ve compiled scientific substantiation. As you saw last week, the Record Rankings reveal to a statistical certainty that Harvard Law School is the bestest law school in the whole wide world.

Which brings us back to Judge Alito, whose law school alma mater, Yale, ranked an abysmal second in the Record Rankings. Either (1) The Record’s methodology is unsound, or else (2) the President is trying to promote a second-rater to the Supreme Court.

Ordinarily, we’d find option one to be highly implausible. Considering Harvard Law students’ infallibility – not to mention justness, decency, and attractiveness (just ask Professor Stuntz) – the poll results of Harvard students should be as good as Gospel. (Err, we mean “as good as Marx, MacKinnon, and Chomsky.”) Frankly, we’re amazed that our classmates were able to think of nine also-rans to round out the rankings. Virginia? Isn’t that a state school?

But upon further reflection, we began to harbor some doubts. Far be it for us to question the wisdom of HLS’s student body, but could it be that there are so many prominent HLS alums simply because Harvard pumps out like two-thirds of the country’s new lawyers every year? Sure there are six Supreme Court justice from Harvard. But for every Supreme Court justice there are three thousand line lawyers. And did you know that one Harvard alum, a Mister Eliot Spitzer, even stooped to become a state attorney general? Friends in low places are great and all, but doesn’t that take “slumming it” a bit too far?

And consider this thought experiment: how many students do you know who were accepted at Yale but rejected at Harvard?

Yeah. Us neither.

Bordering on humility, The Record resorted to Google searching for more prominent HLS alums. Aha! U.S. A.G. Alberto Gonzalez went to HLS. And have you read those torture memos? CRAC at it’s finest! We bet Gonzalez earned a high pass in first-year lawyering.

To think, we had almost doubted our pedigree. If the Undisputedly Greatest President in American History, Rutherford B. Hayes, went to Harvard Law School, well, that’s all the proof we need.

So: while second-best might be suitable for intermediate appellate courts, it simply won’t do for Supreme Court justices. The Record asks that President Bush uninvite, err… withdraw, Judge Alito’s name, and that he nominate Patrick Fitzgerald, whom The Record concludes is both highly qualified and a little too curious in his current position for his own good. If you get where we’re coming from.

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